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Natalie Eleanor Patterson

Sonnet Northwest

 

It was the landscape I loved: driving north, the oaks giving way

to evergreens, orange pines, fog lifting off the river gorge

at the state line, a scenery knifed in two. Clouds canting low,

wild dogs roving in the blue dark, as if the car we rode in

was nothing. It was nothing: inside, the varied psychodramas

of neither lover able to explain why she loved the other,

I don’t fucking know & I probably shouldn’t & We’re not

stopping for the night this time. Outside, the earth rising

to meet more of itself, no divide between one green body

& the next, the interstate brutal with loose viscera

carpeting the asphalt between each mountain pass, a stain

for every deer that got in the way. It was the landscape I loved,

half a moon for every highway, counting herds at the edge of the road,

trying not to become a stain myself, an offering, a blight.

 

 

Kraton Divine

 

            after “Dahmer Does Hollywood” by Amigo the Devil

 

She said that sometimes it’s not the body, but what you see,

                        speaking of fleas that will jump when your finger comes near

 

but cannot be touch. It’s true, the truest love

 

                        is panic, spending my time parsing the alchemy

of another body, Commercial Street in the south district,

 

                        trying not to step on broken glass in the parking lot.

 

Some nights, just dead meat living. She’s capable of making

                        me disappear. 

 

We made the drive back to my place less & less,

 

                        & anyway it always rains on Interstate 5.

Sign by the exit reading                                  KRATOM

 

                        DIVINE,

 

& along that backwater turn-off, red-

                        tailed hawks would sweep down over prey in the wild grass,

 

playing along with the game she made of them. I used to say

 

                        that I would scatter little frozen mice in the fields

each morning, flinging fistful after fistful of already-dead bodies,

 

                        & like me, they too would thaw in the heat

of something that wanted to consume them.

 

                        We counted those birds as they circled the sky, watching

for the telltale blood. In the end, all I did was kiss

 

                        the tattoo on her thigh, the one that reads sorry or forgive me,

next to the one that only asks why.

 

 

We Must All Eat Beautiful Women

 

            after a line by Anne Sexton

 

I am the rain come again        the side wound

in the tree where the moss points north

 

I am the stupid baby        the drowned rat

doll where children point out places

 

they should not have been touched

 

a red miasma        fracture of space

in the whitest page                the smallest

 

illness        blood in the rain before it ever

stained your bedsheets        I am        the dark wave

 

in the dive bar        in the hot light

where a man screamed & you called it music

 

I am the body  under the body                    under

the omen writ large upon your wall

 

the juniper blooded like light

the branch that looks like a human remain

 

rising out of Snake River        deer

carcass                         the rain

 

 

Natalie Eleanor Patterson is a poet, editor, and instructor from Atlanta, Georgia, with an MFA in poetry from Oregon State University. She is the author of the chapbook Plainhollow (dancing girl press, 2022) and the editor of Dream of the River (Jacar Press, 2021), and has work featured or forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom, Hunger Mountain, CALYX, and elsewhere. She has received awards in poetry from Salem College as well as Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations. She is Managing Editor of Jacar Press, an editor for One magazine, and a reader for the Julie Suk Award. She is currently pursuing her PhD in poetry. You can find her on Twitter @natalieepatt and on Instagram @imagine.nat.

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